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Candy Striped Hell

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The room smells like coffee, and face powder, and lip gloss. When Tommy lifts his glass to drink, he can taste a faint dusting of it on the rim, and that’s so familiar.

Adam sits at his dressing table, debating between foundation brushes. His face is intent, completely focused on the task at hand as he sorts what he wants to take on his trip to Miami to meet with produces, and Tommy could sit here forever to watch.

He’s not even supposed to be there - Mike wondered if he wanted to be at home while the security staff refitted his home with new doors and a better fence and shit, but Tommy didn’t. He’s got more than enough shit to worry about than standing over some people who know more about screws and bolts and deadlocks and barbed wire than he does. DIY has never been his thing - putting together his music equipment is as far as he goes when it comes to putting holes in walls and running cables.

Mike’s there anyway, and Tommy spent a whole two hours cleaning out his room so they could refit his window and bedroom door to make it more secure because Mike might have put his foot through it a few days before when he was drunk and Tommy’s alarm kept going off at six am.

Tommy Joe’s housemate is not a morning person.

So instead, Tommy ducked out, pleading boss babysitting duty, and now he’s sitting on a mini sofa thing that is apparently very expensive because Adam said if he put his feet on it, he could forget about earning anything from promo this time around.

So Tommy kicked off his shoes and said fuck you to Adam.  Now he’s curled up with his feet on an old hoodie of the man in the mirror, watching with hooded eyes as Adam works.

“This one or this one?” Adam holds up two virtually identical mascaras in the mirror, obviously anticipating an answer, and Tommy hasn’t a fucking clue. He usually buys whatever’s cheapest, and then Sutan throws a shitfit and gives him some spares he’s always got lying around from Max Factor or Maybelline or some brand that Tommy doesn’t care enough about to know more than it’s black/brown, and it’s supposed to be waterproof.

“Umm. Left.” He picks randomly, and Adam raises his eyebrow. “What?”

“Nothing - nothing...” But the left one does go into the travel makeup kit and the right one ends up back in the drawer it came from,  and Adam moves onto eyeshadow, contemplating the merits of olive versus coffee or whatever. His voice is soft in Tommy’s ears after a whole day of people and talking and traffic.

A candle flickers in a hurricane vase next to the mirror, throwing strange shadows onto the wall, and Tommy sighs. This is one of his safe spots, his bolt holes from the world, a bunker to retreat to after mandatory excursions into the world.

It’s Adam’s house.

The large four story mansion with a three car garage and an outdoor pool is a world away from Tommy’s own shit heap of a three bedroom house that he shares with Mike and a third roommate when they’re tight for money, and at times like this, it really feels it.

The furniture is new and quietly expensive but comfortable, which is, in Tommy’s opinion, a very good thing. Big sofas, soft rugs on the hardwood floors, drapes instead of doors in the main area to promote chi and the free flow of good energy. What the fuck ever. They look awesome, that’s the main point.

The windows are floor to ceiling, the air conditioning so quiet you can barely hear it, the maid service so quiet and discreet that they managed to clean around Tommy while he was sleeping on the couch and and he only woke up when he heard their car backing down the drive after they’d finished.

The electronics are sleek and shiny, and the massive fifty inch TV in the den where he and Adam have their movie nights is a gift straight from Samsung, buttering Adam up to market something that Tommy doesn’t care about. It’s big, it’s shiny, and it gets all the cable channels - he doesn’t need to know anything else. It even has a rotating DVD tray so they can load in three films back to back and not have to get up to change out discs.

The bathrooms are huge, with power showers, and imported tiles, with underfloor heating, and Tommy is sorely missing that in his own home where they have skanky tiles and a mold problem that’s kinda getting out of hand. The pool outside is complemented with a hot tub on the deck that seats ten but usually only has to hold two.

Even the kitchen is pretty cool, and Tommy would happily drop his pants and let Adam fuck him raw if he gets a go at the coffee machine that can dispense barista grade coffee with a drop of the hat and the push of a billion buttons. Adam tells him it’s not necessary, he’s granted Tommy permission to raid it whenever he wants.

He’s also got permission to raid the fridge and the crisper drawer - especially the crisper drawer, Adam informs him - and every so often, he actually dares to, sneaking away with a plate of chicken couscous, or last night’s leftover Chinese or Thai. He usually waits for Adam to tell him what to grab, partly because, you know, it’s Adam’s fridge which is kind of personal, and also because the last thing he wants is a low calorie low fat, low fucking taste pasta sauce thing that Adam’s been saving for breakfast.

So yeah. Pretty much Adam’s house is his favourite place on earth these days, because his own house is a shit heap reinforced like a grenade bunker, and well... where else is there to go?

Adam doesn’t seem to mind. Tommy has an open invitation to come in when he needs to - or even, Adam said, when he wants to - and more often than not Tommy finds himself settling into Adam’s ridiculously comfy sofa at least twice a month.

The open invitation is one of the many things Adam has gone above and beyond to give him.

He’s also granted Tommy a key.

The implications are huge, but Tommy doesn’t think on it. He’s more than tired enough to just accept what he’s given and move on. On his keyring now, between his house key and his Sydney keyring from last tour, he’s got four brand new shiny keys - garage, house, gate, and the plastic security key to disable the house alarm. He’s also got the code imprinted in his head - 09-22-*55 - so he doesn’t, like, call the SWAT team to the house when he tries to break in at four am or some other asscrack of dawn time  with a slightly drunk Adam after being called to pick him up from a bar as he occasionally does

After Lane’s press conference, they’d retreated as a group down to the room where Tommy had started the morning face first in Sutan’s chest, laughing, joking, catching up. It had been like old times – Tommy could almost believe they would be getting up, called onto the buses one by one as if they were on tour all over again, but they hadn’t.

They stayed in the room for a good four or five hours, waiting to cycled through to sign contracts and understand exactly what was expected of them as representatives of Adam’s label and shit, and the only one who wasn’t called was Tommy.

Lane’s face said it all, and Tommy fingers one of his earrings absently as he remembers her expression of anger mixed with resignation when she’d told him to come back tomorrow.

Adam’s frown had worried Tommy more than anything.

The rest of the group had picked up on something, and it showed. Under the surface of jokes and playfighting, there had been a tension that had coiled under everyone’s skin, even those not in on the secret. Glances that were full of meaning were exchanged over Tommy’s head, Monte had been unusually attentive to the group, rather than retreating with just one or two people as was his usual practise, and Sutan had hovered over Tommy, fretting, smoothing his hair, trying to get him to test a new eyeliner, pacing the floor during lulls in the conversation, unable to sit still for long.

Something was up, something big and everyone knew it.

But Adam hadn’t let him dwell on that for long.

Adam had pulled Tommy close, got them to share a sofa to themselves, plying him with coffee, and when Lane’s order from the restaurant came through, he insisted on paying for Tommy’s bacon and cheese sub with lettuce, hold the mustard, heavy on the mayo. And the coffee. And the bottle of diet soda that Tommy, in a moment of madness, had also ordered.

Tommy let him.

He won’t accept a lot in life, up to and including money from Adam’s hand that he hadn’t earned – he’s a man; he’s got his fucking pride, you know? – but he’s never turned down free food. Ever. You pay for Tommy Joe’s taco, or his beer, or his coffee in the morning (especially his coffee, actually), and he’ll be sweet on you forever. He lets a few people get away with it a lot – Sutan usually manages to ply him with cookies and coffee twice a month at least, and Monte’s wife sends in plenty of home baked shit that Tommy can’t resist… And well, Adam. Adam does it a lot.

When Tommy places his order at the coffee counter, sometimes he gets to pay, but sometimes a hand comes down over his, and Adam offers a twenty dollar bill to the barista, and that’s that. Or when the cheque arrives during a meal in a restaurant, Tommy reaches for his wallet, only to have Adam fix him with a look and a crisp fifty dollar bill, and change lands on the stupid little plastic tray.

It had been Adam’s MO all along really. Right from the word go, when Tommy arrived at the studio clutching a sheaf of music notes, hastily adapted for the bass, and a rented guitar because he didn’t own an electric bass after Adam had promised to just listen to him a second time, Adam had taken him under his wing, so to speak.

Tommy didn’t know how to take it at first because it was mostly a difficult sort of time for him, moving in those circles, being a somewhat vaguely famous person. Back up bands don’t bring in the big shit, that’s the long and short of it in the industry. Monte gets more because he’s got an extra title to his name – Creative Director or something, and Brooke gets a little more because she has to work to choreograph as well as dance, but Tommy Joe? He gets expenses paid, and a little bit on top, but he’s not rolling in it.

So when Adam started buying him lunch, calling it a favour because if he has someone else there, he can resist the call of the dessert menu, Tommy Joe was a little floored and nervous. But he accepted. He didn’t know if he could say no at the time, even though Adam would totally have accepted it and rolled on with a smile and a joke.

Their first dinner was in a two star greasy spoon cafe, and it was the best fucking dinner Tommy ever had. Ever.

It’s kinda grown on him now, and he lets Adam do it here and there because it’s nice to go out to places he used to park cars as a valet at before. Or even if it’s just paying for coffee,and Tommy pays him back by learning that new song of Adam’s in double quick time so Adam can stop stressing about it. He values those meals as well. Adam’s a really nice guy, and Tommy enjoys spending time with him whether it’s outside or staying in, and ordering from the really good delivery company.

And it’s especially nice because, well… money’s a bit tight at the moment. He’s not completely out of pocket, but he’s got gas to buy, and his rent to make, and then his health insurance as well… and if he’s got promo to worry about then that’s another expense on top of everything else. He’ll need some more clothes, and smart shit depending on where they’re performing, and then he has to go pick hunting and spare equipment buying. And that’ll take all day because Tommy Joe does not trust many places to give him the right sort of pick.
Maybe it’s a control thing, maybe it’s just a Tommy thing but he thinks his picks bring out the best in his guitars, and if he’s playing promo as well, he needs that edge.

He’s been playing with Adam for a while now, but he’s still kinda scared that if he doesn’t play well, he’s gonna be booted off home without a second glance. Even if Adam’s told him to his face time and again that he wouldn’t do that to Tommy, he still worries about it.  

“Why did I buy hot pink eyeshadow?” Adam is holding up a searing pink palette, and Tommy winces. It’s horrible, and Sutan would die of horror if he ever saw it.

“No idea. Maybe you were drunk?” It’s a perfectly legitimate question. Adam does a lot of strange shit when he’s drunk, like making a lot of toast to build sculptures, and eating ice cream straight out of the tub with a ladle, wearing nothing but his boxers. Tommy totally maintains it’s to do with his diet and cravings breaking out when Adam’s defences are lower against the evils of sugar and candy, because nobody can subsist on green shit for the rest of their days, and it has to come out sometimes. Adam usually tells him to shut up and pass the chocolate sauce.

And Tommy does because, hey, he always gets a spoon and it’s free food, remember?

“You want?”

“Hell no.” He’s up for a lot of things, but he draws the line at that. It looks like it’s been dipped in radioactive waste or something. “Give to it Monte’s kids?”

“Good point.” The girls are growing up fast, Tommy sees it all the time when they come to the studios or he goes to Monte’s to play for a bit. The girls have gone from yay high to WAY high, and it’s fucking scary. Their father came in a few weeks ago, bemoaning the fact that his oldest two wanted makeup kits for their birthdays, and where did the years go?

Tommy had said nothing. Time moves quickly, and he’s not such a fan of that.

Time is a bitch, in Tommy’s opinion, a fucking low bitch that sneaks up on people and stabs a knife in their backs. It took away Tommy’s father - he managed just twenty minutes beside his dying father’s bedside before Death took him away forever. It lost Tommy a lot of respect in high school because he had to choose between friends and grades, and time ran out before he could make that choice.... Time is a whore bitch, and Tommy never has enough time to do everything he wants.

Adam throws the eyeshadow into the little bag on the back of the chair that he’s planning to give to Monte’s girls as soon as it’s full. He gets so much free makeup and shit, he wants to share the love.)

Adam likes to share the love. He’s a total love person.

He has a bag hidden in the drawer of the mirror stand that he thinks Tommy doesn’t know about, and it’s full of more free makeup, but better quality, better brands, more expensive than the cheap Walmart shit. Tommy’s nosy, and he found it one night when he was staying over and Adam was downstairs in the study on the phone to some jackass producer. It’s all carefully picked out, brand new, and the right colours for a pretty gay Christmas Elf.

It takes work to put together a kit like that, and he appreciates it. He’ll get it for Christmas, even though Adam doesn’t celebrate Christmas, being a lapsed Jewish person and all that, so it’ll probably be on like, December 29th or something.

Or New Year’s.

Tommy likes New Year’s Day - the whole starting over, wipe the slate clean thing appeals to him. Plus, you know, spending time with Adam and friends and family that comes with it.

Adam’s full of little gestures like the make up kit towards everybody, and Tommy thinks it’s what makes him such a good boss. Yeah, he’s a fucking hardass about the dumbest things during sound check, and he’s a bear with a sore head when he’s stressed over the fucking label giving him orders over the new album,  but he’s also just… kind.

It’s a fucking stupid word, but Tommy thinks it fits.

Adam just is spontaneous with gifts and things, and he doesn’t seem to mind if Tommy can’t find the words to express how thankful he is for things like Adam paying him for the six days he took off when his dad was dying even though he wasn’t playing (and he heard Monte saying how hard he had to fight the executives for it). Not to mention, when he’d found out the news and had no fucking clue how he was going to get home because he was broke ass broke from not getting his first paycheck yet, and his boss had stepped in. Adam had given him a tissue with one hand and handed him a return flight ticket to Burbank with the other, and he wouldn’t take it back no matter how much Tommy pushed it away.

Tommy had cried into Adam’s shirt all night long for that, and when he caught the plane in the morning, Adam waved goodbye to him from the airport barricade.

So yeah. Adam’s pretty fucking awesome.

He got dragged here after everything they did today, and Tommy’s not usually so ready to be so close, but it’s Adam, and he’s really fucking familiar and everything else that Tommy needs today. So Tommy sits in Adam’s walk in closet and watches him carefully sort through the hundreds of brushes, applicators and bundles of cotton pads, and he sighs.

He’s tired.

It’s been a long day – up so early for the meeting, his worry over everything, camping out away from his bed as Adam dragged the crew to a restaurant for dinner and then onto an avant-garde film extravaganza in the basement of an old library – that had been kinda cool, actually.

So now, it’s ten past nine at night, and Tommy is still hiding out from going home where he has to confront his new reality of the stalker being real yet again by seeing the door locks and shit. He’s staying at Adam’s tonight – he’s got the clothes on his back and that’s it, but Adam’ll lend him some shit – and he’s done with everything.

He sighs again.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be another scary day again. The police are coming to take another statement from him and getting him to talk to a sketch artist to try to get a better idea of the girl’s face because all the photos are apparently shit. He’s also got to talk to some higher up about the new expense of his bodyguards, and Tommy hopes they don’t try to get him to take over paying them because frankly, Tommy’s got not enough cash to have a guard mouse, never mind pay for two oversized human guard dogs.

Adam will hit the roof if they try though.

“You wanna go find our DVD for tonight?” Adam zips up the bag, places it into the case beside him. “I’ll order the food if you want?”

Yeah. Tommy can do that. Veg out tonight, worry about tomorrow in the morning.




Lovenhart's first love